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Photos: Jérémie Anne

FRANCE: SNCF has completed a refurbishment programme covering all 79 of its Class Z23500 double-deck EMUs, with the presentation of the last trainset for Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes taking place at contractor ACC M’s workshops in Clermont-Ferrand on September 2.

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In service since 1998, the 140 km/h, two-car, dual-system EMUs are used on 1∙5 kV DC and 25 kV 50 Hz routes across the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Hauts-de-France and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur regions. The trains have been undergoing a wholesale overhaul and refurbishment since 2017 under a project undertaken jointly by SNCF Voyageurs, Alstom and ACC M. SNCF refurbish 63 trains at its own depots, while the 16 sets for Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes were refitted by ACC M.

Among the key aims of the refresh were to address problems caused by water ingress and corrosion. The trains treated by ACC M saw many interior fittings replaced, windows and gangways renewed, and a protective external vinyl wrap fitted with the branding of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. There was also an overhaul of the traction equipment and an update to the Passenger Information System, including dynamic interior screens which present upcoming station calls and the final destination as well as other local information.

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Significant investment has been made to enhance WiFi and data connectivity, and to increase security by fitting CCTV throughout. The EMUs are now provided with 4G antennae to enhance communication between the train and the regional control centre in Lyon. PRM TSI requirements have also been addressed, with work to make stairs more visible and provide colour contrasts in doors and seats. The seats themselves have been renewed and power sockets added. Each train was refurbished by ACC M in 43 days, around 10 days faster than achieved by SNCF on its work package.

The contract for refurbishment of the 16 Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes trains was valued at €42m, being split between ACC M (€10m), Alstom (€12m) and SNCF (€20m).